Top Latino Educators Named 2016 Fellows for NCLR’s

Unique program enhances advocacy efforts on behalf of Latino students

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is pleased to announce that 10 exceptional school leaders from California, Utah, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Nevada and Florida were selected from a competitive pool of applicants as the 2016 fellows for the National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL). The program is generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The selected fellows have invested decades in the field of education working with Latino students, the majority of them English learners, from low-income communities. Designed for high-potential mid- to senior-level education leaders, the NILSL program will equip NCLR fellows with the advocacy and communication skills needed to influence policy and serve as spokespeople for NCLR.

NILSL, launched in 2011 by NCLR in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is the only institute that trains tenured school administrators and community-based organization leaders to advocate for federal- and state-level policies that strengthen the education of Latino students and English language learners. Since its inception, the NILSL program has recruited four cohorts and trained 33 fellows and five master fellows from eight states and the District of Columbia. This is the fifth cohort and will be composed of 10 fellows from seven states.

The ultimate goal of this institute is to elevate the voices of school leaders advocating for reform measures, accountability systems and quality programs aimed at improving the educational outcomes for students in the Latino community.

“In light of important changes to our nation’s education system, particularly the passage of a new ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), these fellows will play a critical role in helping to improve educational outcomes and accountability for our nation’s Latino students who represent about one-quarter of the nation’s school children,” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, NCLR.

Over the course of two years, the fellows will receive in-person and virtual training sessions that will equip them with the necessary skills to fulfill the envisioned dual role of serving as NCLR spokespeople as well as active agents in the policymaking process.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such a group of talented and devoted educators participate in this program and enhance their advocacy skills. They have dedicated years to helping students in some of our nation’s underserved communities excel, ” said Margaret “Peggy” R. McLeod, Deputy Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, NCLR.

The NILSL fellowship will kick off with two-day training on March 7–9, 2016 in Washington, DC. Fellows named this year include:

FELLOW'S NAME                                       TITLE                                         SITE                              STATE

Jose Enriquez                                        Executive Director             Latinos in Action                    UT

John Joseph Monteleone                      Administrator                  Lorain City Schools                 OH

Rafael Gaeta                                           Principal              LAUSD - Nightingale Middle School  CA

Mayra Samantha Lopez-Zuniga   Lead Education Organizer     The Resurrection Project     IL

Christopher R. McBride                 Director       Mariposa Academy of Language & Learning  NV

Marla Angelita Fernandez              Principal            South Bay Union School District               CA

Jesus F. Sanchez                           Director of Programs                  Esperanza Inc                       OH

Ana Martinez                                   Executive Director                      New Leaders                          IL

Dalila Maria Duarte                           Director             Casa Azafrán Early Learning Center     TN

Catalina Kaiyoorawongs              Associate ED                      Unidos Now                                  FL

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.